As you know P.O.E.T.S stands for piss off early tomorrow is Saturday and I’ll admit I was against ending Friday releases for people leaving prison for that very reason. I saw no reason as to why anyone should not be released on a Friday and that it was down to the support services to ensure that no matter when someone was released from prison the support should be there. The Samaritans are available 24-7-365, even in prison. Crisis doesn’t only work 9 to 5 Monday to Friday, nor does crime, and crisis and crime are most definitely linked.
The stats show that approx. 1 in 3 people leave prison on a Friday. What they don’t show are the sentence lengths of people being released on Friday’s, which is why I was struggling to accept ending Friday releases. If someone who has served a sentence of more than 12 months, and where the release date of a Friday has been known within seven days of the person entering prison, I would ask where the pre-planning was to ensure everything was in place before release. Although, I would like to have seen that person’s first probation appointment moved to the following Monday.
Getting out of prison, for the person, their families and loved ones, is something not to celebrate as such but the last thing someone wants following a release from prison is to be put under immediate pressure to be here, there, and everywhere, which if you don’t it could mean an almost immediate return to prison; without even having a chance to reoffend, if they so desired.
Getting out of prison is an occasion, maybe not one like the queen just had but nonetheless, it is still an occasion. Especially for the individual leaving. We might have walked out the same gate, but the lives we walked back into were ours, and ours alone.
However, what about people being sent to prison for less time than it takes for the ink to dry on their warrant? I’ve seen many people leave prison before they’ve even received their release date notification. What happens to people being released on Fridays then? What happens when there isn’t enough time inside to make live better outside?
The obvious answer would be to scrap prison sentences of less than 12 months. That isn’t to say the courts should send people to prison for more than 12 months, if it isn’t warranted, because the courts have an abundance of options available to them, which don’t include prison. One’s, coincidentally, which do far better at reducing reoffending than what a 20-day prison sentence would.
Unfortunately, the Secretary of State for Justice doesn’t share the same view and we’re, for now anyway, stuck with sentences of less than 12 months. Just so you know, I haven’t served a prison sentence of less than 12 months since the 1980s, so I’m not writing this from a position of sour grapes.
Ending Friday releases for people leaving prison who are most in need of support services at least shows the system is listening, and not just listening but also taking sensible action.
What I now see, however, are potential gaps that people leaving prison, no matter their sentence length, can fall into, therefore, the sensible and most obvious action would be to end Friday releases for all people leaving prison.
Cor, imagine if you were due for release on a bank holiday Monday, Whoomp! There it is!